« PreviousContinue »
the earth. Which Adam, by the envy of the devil, disobeying the commandment of his Maker, did first sin, and brought sin into this world, such and so great, that we, which are sprung of him after the flesh, are subdued unto sin, death, and damnation, brought under the yoke and tyranny of the devil.
And further, that Christ Jesus, his Son, was promised of God the Father, to be a Saviour to this Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the other fathers; which should deliver them from their sins and tyranny of the devil, who with a quick and living faith would believe this promise, and trust to this Jesus Christ, hoping to have this deliverance of and by him. And truly, this promise is very oft rehearsed in the books of the Old Testament: as that is called the New, which teacheth that this promise is fulfilled.
And, that in the mean season (while the fathers look for salvation and deliverance promised, because man's nature is such that he not only cannot, but also will not confess himself to be a sinner, and especially such a sinner that hath need of the saying health promised), the law was given, wherethrough men might know sin, and that they are sinners : when they see that they do none of the things, that the law commandeth, with so glad and willing a mind as God requireth ; but rather against their wills, without affection, and as though they were constrained with the fear of that hell, which the law threateneth, saying; “ Cursed be he that maintaineth not all the words of this law to keep them.” And that this law was given to the intent that sin and the malice of men's hearts, being thereby the better known, men should the more fervently thirst for the coming of Christ, which should redeem them from their sins: as it was figured unto the Jews by many ceremonies, hosts, and sacrifices, which were ordained of God, not to the intent to take away sins, but to shew and declare, that they should be put away by faith in the salvation promised through Christ; and which now are put away by the coming of that Christ, which is the very host of the Father that taketh away all sin.
Last of all, by the books of the New Testament, we are taught, that Christ, which was promised and shadowed in the Old Testament, is sent of the Father, at such time as he had determined with himself ; at such time, I say, as all wickedness flourished. And that he was sent, not for any man's good works (for they all were sinners), but to the intent that he would truly shew the abundant riches of his grace, which he had promised.
In the New Testament, therefore, it is most évi. dently declared, that Jesus Christ, the true lamb and host, is come, to the intent to reconcile us to the Father, paying on the cross the punishment due unto our sins : and to deliver us from the bondage of the devil (unto whom we served through sin), and to make us the sons of God, since he hath given us the true peace and tranquillity of conscience, that we no longer do fear the pains of hell: which fear is put away by the faith, confidence, and assurance that the Father giveth us, drawing us unto his Son. For that faith is the gift of God, whereby we believe that Christ is come into this world to save sinners : which is of so great pith, that they, which have it, desire to perforin all the duties of love to all men, after the example of Christ. For, faith once received, God giveth his Holy Ghost, wherewith he tokeneth and marketh all that believe : which is the pledge and earnest that we shall surely possess everlasting life, and that giveth witness unto our spirit, and grafteth this faith in us, that we be the sons of God; pouring therewith the love into our hearts, which Paul describeth and setteth out to the Corinthians. By that faith and confidence in Christ, which by love is inighty in operation, and that sheweth itself through the works of love, stirring men thereto, by that, I say, we are justified; that is, by that faith Christ's Father (which is become ours also, through that Christ our brother) counteth us for righteous, and for his Son's : imputing not our sins unto us, through his grace.
To conclude, he came to the intent, that we, being cleansed from our sins, and sanctified umto God the Father ; that is, hallowed unto the use of the Father, to exercise good works; denying and forsaking the works of the flesh, should freely serve him in righteousness and holiness all our life long; through good works which God hath ordained, to the intent that we should walk in thein, declaring ourselves thereby to be surely called unto this grace: which works, whosoever hath not, declajeth that he hath not faith in Christ. • Unto whom we must come, and follow him with a cheerful heart, that he may instruct and teach us: for he is our Master, meek and humble of heart; he is our example, of whom we must learn the rule of good living : further, he is our priest, high bishop, and only mediator: which now sitteth on the right hand of God the Father, is our advocate, and prayeth ever for us; which will undoubtedly obtain whatsoever we desire, either of him, or of his Father in his name ; if we believe that he will do it when we require it, for so hath he promised. Let us therefore not doubt (although we sometimes sin) with a confidence to come unto him, and with a living and undoubting faith, that we shall obtain mercy. For therefore came he to the intent to save sinners : neither requireth he any thing more of us, than to come unto him without fear.
This is that Christ Jesus, which after he hath killed the man of sin with the breath of his mouth, shall sit in his majesty, and judge all men, giving unto every one the works of his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad : and that he shall say unto them that shall be on his right hand, « Come ye blessed children of my Father, inherit ye the kingdom prepared for you, from the beginning of the world ; and unto them that shall be on his left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire: which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” “ Then shall the end come, and he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, the Father.”
To the intent that we should know this, by the goodness of God working by his Holy Spirit, are the holy writings of the Bible given us : that we should know, I say, and believe that there is one God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent: and that in believing, we should have everlasting life through his name.
Another foundation than this can no man lay. And St. Paul desireth that he be holden accursed, which preacheth any other faith and salvation, than only by Jesus Christ : yea, although it were an angel of heaven.
For of him, and through him, and for him are all things : to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory for evermore. Amen.